Friday, 31 August 2012

Summer in Berlin, it's alright PART V

♫ Freedom Call – We Are One

I think this may be the final Berlin post – well, unless my babbling becomes so uncontrollable that I had better make another post for it. So be prepared to read something inconsistent, I suppose the only properly introduced tourist tip will be...

East Side Gallery
There is not much left of the Berlin Wall, but East Side Gallery is a spot with 1.3 kilometers of the original wall. The eastern side of the wall was decorated by artists from all over the world in 1990, and it is sort of a memorial for freedom. Most of the paintings are more or less political, many of them referring to the wall itself. And the other side of the wall, basically the no-man's-land part, is full of traditional graffiti. :>

The gallery is located near the River Spree, on Mühlenstraße, near Ostbahnhof train station. Besides the art and the original wall, there's not much else to see on the spot. However, the mere wall would have been enough for me, I'm somehow so fascinated by it.

The graffiti side of the wall, as well as the first photo.

A cute graffiti.

Graffiti side, but damn – if this was authentic, it would be very impressive.

The gallery side

Okay, that was it for the East Side Gallery. I shall... talk about how I liked Berlin. Hopefully I can keep it short. In brief: I really fell in love with Berlin. Many big cities may fascinate me, but Berlin was just as awesome as I had expected it to be. And well, I don't like just any big city. I don't like Helsinki at all, although it is the biggest city in Finland (apologies to you who live there; I cannot quite explain why I don't like it).

A piece of wall near Potsdamer Platz

Berlin felt like home instantly. It was so strange, but not alienating at all. It was so easy to move there, so easy to find whatever you were looking for (except for good and cheap record stores, oh well). While some people say Berlin isn't beautiful, I would say it's interesting. There are beautiful buildings and ugly buildings, but it's much more interesting than a city with merely neutral architecture.

At Tiergarten train station

And I don't really speak German, I've forgotten everything I studied in two years in elementary school. :( I wish I hadn't though, I have learnt to like the language later on. But you can manage with English. And I felt very secure in Berlin. Seriously, I would dare to go there all alone and move about and trust that nothing too bad would happen and I wouldn't get too badly lost either.


And now, in this situation, Berlin may seem more like a safe haven to me. I want to go back, I want to experience it again in a different way (probably in a more laid-back way this time; we were pretty much running from one place to another, though I liked it too, but didn't have much time to sit still and wonder, enjoy and feel...). I want to return to those moments when I felt that my dream had come true. Those moments when I felt so very happy. And then, like I already told you, on the day of my return I got to hear I would be temporarily laid off of work. And here I am still, looking for work, getting depressed without a single invitation to a job interview, feeling anything but confident about myself, feeling frustrated when days go by and I don't feel that I've accomplished anything. Then I just dream of Berlin, dream of the vacation I had, and occasionally even think of moving there – why, I don't know. I still don't speak German and I don't know what I could do in Berlin or how I could make a living over there when it doesn't seem to succeed in Finland either. It just gives me a feeling of so much better a place than, well, this.

Potsdamer Platz

However, at the end of the vacation I was happy to go home. My feet were so extremely sore that I couldn't have survived another day exploring the city, no matter how much I would have wanted. Each step hurt, but what was even worse was standing still. I had had two pairs of flats which I mostly wore there. While one pair was so soft that they couldn't possibly rub the feet uncomfortably, the other pair wasn't so nice on feet to begin with. The worst thing though was having such thin shoe soles. The shoes provided my feet with about just as much protection as walking the streets of Berlin barefoot would have. That left my foot bones sore after each long day spent mostly on our feet, and a short night spent resting didn't let them recover. Eventually I woke up to each morning with aching feet, and it took me several days to recover afterwards. Lesson learnt: good shoes do have thick soles for a reason.

A bridge across Spree near Schloss Bellevue

A detail in a work of art near Europa Center

I have yet to show what I actually purchased in Berlin, although I already showed a photo of the stuff I bought at Brandenburger Tor. Very well – we didn't really have much time to go shopping, but it's alright. I might have wanted to find some clothes or shoes, but maybe next time. I did end up trying some in one clothes store, being so much in awe by the fact they had size 32. In the end none of the fitting clothes pleased my eyes, and the only ones that did were a pair of, should I say, denim hotpants, which were just a bit too tight. Sucks.

I got a German flag, because I kinda like to own such to remind me of where I've been (not that I'd ever buy another one if I visited Germany again). Funnily enough, I don't own the flags of most countries I've visited... I wanted to buy two postcards with DDR related messages. At the TV tower I bought a tote bag which is quite a perfect carrier for my training gear. Yellow was quite an exceptional color choice for me, but the other option was green. I would have bought a T-shirt with that print if they had had my size! Then I got a small Hard Rock Cafe Berlin goblet, to remind me I've visited that place too, hahah. I had wished I could find a record store selling good and cheap German metal records, but that was too much to ask. I'd thought they'd have a lot of discounts for (a few years) old domestic CDs, but nah. :/ The only CD I bought was Powerwolf's Lupus Dei, not a bad find though. Finally, I found a pair of fancy fishnet tights for 4.99€ (and as a Finn I got dumbfounded when the clerk gave me one cent in exchange for my five euro bill).

Oh but I'm a Finn and I visited Germany? Must bring home some booze... This may make me seem like an alcoholic or something, which I certainly am not, but oh... Captain Morgan. I just had to get bottles which aren't available in Finland! The most important thing for me to find was a bottle of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold, which wasn't available in Finland until... I don't know? During the trip I still thought there was none available here, but a few days ago I found out 0.5 liter bottles are sold here as well – but as far as I know, they haven't been available for long. I'm not sure if it is good or bad news for me – I happened to fell in love with Original Spiced Gold and if it's too easy for me to get my hands on it, then... Seriously! It smells like candy and tastes like candy! And yes, on its own. The Black Label bottle was my tax free purchase, probably for the sake of getting a one-liter bottle to my piratey collection of, err, Captain Morgan containers. And the can with a mix of Captain&Cola was an awesome find – why don't they have such mixes in cans in Finland, especially not in grocery stores? Oh yeah, our alcohol policies are so strict. :( When some people cannot use it in a wise way, those who do (like me, believe it or not, see what I said here) get to suffer as well.

Okay, the end of my Berlin series is drawing near. I hope you enjoyed reading the stories – and thank you all who did! If you want to ask something about the city, I'd happily try to answer. So long!

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